The local restaurant scene is killing it, but sometimes you just want to go to a neighborhood bar with your friends, have some drinks and eat delicious food…somewhere you can wet your whistle and whet your appetite. To make it easier for you to stuff your belly while drinking, I’ve rounded up McAllen’s favorite watering holes with the best pub grub.
GRAIN TO GLASS – 5921 N. 23rd St
The staff at Grain to Glass is working double-time, by crushing it behind the bar as well as the kitchen. One of the best places for craft beer in McAllen also dishes out tasty pub fare like its Pork Sliders with house-made sweet and spicy BBQ sauce and Fried Pickle Spears which make for the perfect bar food when you’re drinking copious amounts of high-quality, small batch brew. Other elevated bar snacks include modern takes on regional favorites like Sweet & Spicy Chicharron Strips and Chicken Pozole, a hearty Mexican stew made with chicken and hominy and the usual accouterments of onions, lemon, dried oregano and house-made tortilla chips. Nourish your brain as well as your stomach on Trivia Tuesdays, where you can challenge the intellect of fellow bar-goers while chowing down on some of the best pub grub in town. Good beers and better food means everyone’s a winner at Grain to Glass.
GAMEHAUS GASTROPUB – 2109 W. Nolana Ave
There are bars that have pretty good food and then there’s Gamhaus. It meets the criteria for a place with great bar bites: snackable bites, sharable food and something that pairs well with beer. The upgraded bar menu at this local favorite delivers on all fronts with its extraordinarily satisfying bar bites like Pulled Pork Tacos and the Chicken Poppers, which feature chicken breast, nduja sausage, cream cheese, chives, bacon and cilantro ranch. Let me back up. Whatever you order, be sure to start with the Fried Mushrooms that come expertly fried in beer batter with a side of house-made chipotle buttermilk ranch dipping sauce. If you’re a carb-lover like me, opt for the Garlic Knots, fresh baked bread knots with garlic butter and Parmesan along with a spicy crushed tomato sauce for dipping. Enjoy free pool, shuffleboard, darts and ping pong Sunday through Thursday while chowing down on some straight up legit bar food.
SUERTE BAR & GRILL – 301 S. 17th St
Suerte is the perfect less-than-sober dining spot, and its simple but effective menu of snackage is exactly what you need if you find yourself bar hopping through 17th Street on an empty stomach. Sunday brunches at this downtown favorite feature the local culture combo of Big Red and barbacoa or cure your weekend woes with a fresh bowl of menudo. I can’t tell you how many times a taco on Taco Tuesday, a hot dog on Weiner Wednesday or a tostada on Tostada Thursday has saved me from a crushing hangover, but I can tell you this, no matter which day it is, you can’t go wrong with the pizza fries. You read that right: pizza fries. Not “pizza and fries” or “pizza, fries”, it’s two tasty words put together in one heap of shareable deliciousness. It’s fresh-cut fries topped with marinara sauce, a generous pile of mozzarella cheese topped with pepperoni, and it tastes exactly how it sounds. So pick a day, any day, because Suerte is slingin’ good eats alongside tasty libations, and it’s doing a bang-up job on the regular.
Pro-Tip: Grab a seat at the bar, order a beer and a shot, get an order of pizza fries, and see where the night takes you.
SCHNEIDER’S GERMAN GASTHAUS & BEERGARDEN – 5507 N. Ware Rd
If you ask a savvy local to point you in the direction of a dive bar with awesome food, you might end up at Schneider’s. A true hidden gem in McAllen, Schneider’s will transport you to the streets of Berlin with every snap of the sausage. Okay, maybe not, but German food definitely gets its due here, and the Jager Schnitzel is a top pick amongst loyal patrons. On the recommendation of the staff, I started with a fresh-baked soft pretzel and bratwurst with sauerkraut, and I’m glad I did. The soft, salty and buttery pretzel is the perfect way to sop up the hefeweizen and satisfy your late-night cravings, and you can’t go to a German restaurant, order a German beer and NOT eat bratwurst! The outdoor patio is perfect for gatherings centered on great beer, and the top-notch food is an added bonus at this one-of-a-kind spot.
Pro-Tip: Next time you’re looking for a patio bar with a laid-back vibe, this is the place you need to visit. Post up around the fire pit.
THE FLYING WALRUS – 204 S. 17th St
When you think of bar food, you probably don’t think of a downtown live music bar, but the pizza at Flying Walrus is a legend in the downtown bar scene. Bar-hoppers opt for the freakishly delicious pizza whole and by the slice, and it’s served until 2am. How do you know the pizza is good? When people who don’t drink make it their takeaway pizza of choice.
It’s not mystery, when a bar serves food, people stay longer, and these local joints are doing a bang-up job dishing out delicious pub grub. Next time you find yourself at one of these bars and you’re a few drinks in, try the food offerings, your future hangover-free self will thank you.
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